Friday, August 5, 2011

Clambake - a Tutorial

As soon as I started cutting fabric for this quilt I knew I needed to write a tutorial. It is fun and easy and delivers great results! You should know by now that I don't like to do anything hard so believe me when I tell you "YOU can do this!" I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Fabric Requirements:
1 yard border fabric (I used white)
21 Fat Quarters- assorted prints and colors
(I used Felicity by Emily Taylor for Riley Blake)
1/2 yard for Binding
3 1/2 yards Backing
You will also need to download the PDF template for this pattern.

OK. Let's get started.

The first thing your're going to do is to press all your fat quarters. Then, fold them in half and in half again making a smaller square. This way you have 4 layers of the same print.

Next, print you PDF file onto plain paper and onto a medium-heavy weight cardstock. You'll need BOTH of these templates.

You're going to use the paper printout to make a template. I like to use the cardboard off the back of a notebook. Tape the paper printout on top of the cardboard and using a dull pencil or a medium point pen trace around the outside solid line on the template. You want to press hard enough to leave an indentation on the cardstock. Remove the paper and cut out the template using charp scissors. Your piece should look like the one below.

 Carefully cut just the edge off of one of the folded FQ's so that you have a clean edge to work with.
 Line the bottom point (for lack of a better term) of the template on this clean cut edge.
 Now you have two choices. You can A.) trace around the template and mark your lines afterwhich you'll need to pin like crazy through all 4 layers and cut out the clam shape with sharp scissors. OR....
B.) CAREFULLY! And I mean carefully cut out around the template. I used lots of pressure to make sure I was cutting through all 4 layers. I also moved very very slowly. I used my regular 45mm cutter and it worked fine- I just had to take my time. However, if I had been able to locate my 18mm cutter I think it would've been a little easier.
*If using a rotary cutter you may want to make more than one template. After a while I would occasionally trim a tiny bit away from my template. I ended up using 3 templates to cut out all my pieces.

 (Ignore the fact that I didn't line up the 'point'- I took this picture before I realized lining them to the edge was easier!)
 Cut out 4 Clamshells from each FQ giving you a total of 84 Clamshells
 Now you're going to get those cardstock templates you printed out. You want to cut on the SOLID line on the bottom curves and the point and on the DASHED line around the top curve as shown above.
Place a Clamshell print side down on your ironing board. Give a quick spray of starch or other pressing agent to the curve of your piece (I've found that this helps it hold it's shape better. I prefer using Magic Sizing). You don't want it saturated- just damp. Lay your template on top of the fabric clamshell like shown.

 Press the edges of the fabric back onto the template creating your 1/4" seam allowance.
Remove the template and turn the piece over. I usually do one more quick press at this point. See the little corner? You can see where the seam allowance is pressed under. Using a marking tool, make a little mark at the top of each curve that tells you where the center is. (It's on the templates)
Alright now repeat for each piece.

*I'll be honest- that's a lot of pressing. So here's what I did. Since there are 4 of each print I divided the pieces into 4 stacks. Each stack contained one of each print. Then I pressed all the pieces in one stack. I started building my quilt with those pieces and then moved on to stack 2. This also kept me from repeating a print too close to eachother.

Enough prep work- let's get started with this quilt top!

 You need a strip 8" x 45 1/2" long  for your top border. This is how you'll start the quilt. I was able to get a full 8" x 44" piece of fabric after trimming my selvages. I also cut a 1 1/4" x 8" strip to add to the end of my 44" piece to give me the complete 45 1/2" in length. (See above) Press seams OPEN.
 Remember that center mark I had you make? Well now it comes in handy. Press your 8" border piece in half so you have a seam marking the center. This is important so all your clamshells fit nicely into place. Line up that center mark on the seam and begin pinning the clamshell into place. Notice the bottom edges of the clamshell curve rest nicely on the edge of the fabric. Pin! Pin! Pin!

*A note about pins: I rarely use pins but I admit- they have their place. This is one of those places. If you absolutely refuse to use pins- this quilt is not for you. Pinning is a MUST. Sorry. But if I can get past it, so can you. It really is worth it!  :o)

Continue adding camshells to either side of the center shell until you've reached the edges of the border. Your border and the outer edge of each clamshell on either side should meet up perfectly- like it was meant to be *wink!*.
See that pretty row? Super cute! And the places for row 2's clamshells are already there!
Move the border piece to your sewing machine and topstitch as close to the edge of your clamshell as possible. I tried to zoom this picture as close as I could to show you. If you prefer a different applique stitch by all means use it. I want your finished project to be as much "you" as mine is "me".

Now, on to row 2. 
Using that center mark again, line up a clamshell's center mark at the junction between 2 clamshells from the first row. The bottom edge of the clamshell curve from row 2 will nest nicely on the 'points' from row 1. This keeps the quilt from getting wonky. I was worried that the curves were going to be a problem, but since each row sets up for the one to follow the quilt has a nice way of staying smooth.
Just remember:  Pin! Pin! Pin!

But what to do when you come to the end of the row you ask? Simple. Find a clamshell you wish to use and cut it down the center. Use the half that fits into that side as your half piece. You can use the other half on the other side, or cut another piece for more variety. You'll use the rest of the pieces later on in the quilt. Pin this half piece in place too. Then top stitch the entire row at one time as you did the first row.

*(you'll notice in the picture below that my clamshell extends beyond the border fabric- IGNORE THIS!  Originally I was going to trim the whole top down, then I realized adding a tiny bit of fabric would be easier and yield better results. Hey, we learn as we go sometimes!)
 Now a word if I may about the top-stitching. When you get to the bottom of those curves where they're so gently resting on the 'points' of the piece below- GO SLOW!!!  If you have a needle down option on your machine- USE IT. I don't so I manually turned my needle down, pivoted my work and made ONE STITCH from one clamshell to the next. This kept them nice and close. Again, leaving my needle down, pivoted the piece and began stitching the next curve. I tried to get a picture of this but it really wasn't showing well. I think my description is enough.

Did I mention to GO SLOW!? 

I could add 4 rows of clamshells before I ran out of pieces. Then, like I mentioned before I would press the next set and continue. The quilt top gets large, but not too large to handle if you take your time.

Here is a picture of the back after a few rows so you can see how nicely the pieces fit onto eachother.

After you have run out of clamshell pieces it's time to finish that quilt top. My quilt top had 16 rows (with a few extra clamshells leftover).

I pressed my entire quilt top just to be sure. Then it was time to trim. Using a LARGE ruler I trimed each side. Only a tiny bit was needed to clean up the edges.  
 Now for the bottom. Line that large ruler up along the bottom edge of those clamshell curves (see photo) and trim off the points.

 You'll use a 5" x 45 1/2" strip of border fabric along the bottom. Piece it together just as we did the top. Attach the bottom border to the quilt top.

 See that beauty? Now we'll add the side borders. I cut (3) 5" x WOF strips for the side borders. I cut one in half and pieced each half to the other full strips, attached it to the quilt top sides and trimmed the excess. I know there's other ways of doing this so do whatever suits you. The yard of fabric I required is plenty for the borders.
And here is that finished quilt top.

As always, Quilt, Bind and Enjoy!

Check out my Flickr group to see more finished pictures of my quilt top and to see details of the quilting.

(p.s.- if you find any mistakes or something doesn't make sense, please email me so I can fix it. Thanks!)


Sequana said...

Google won't let me into the template doc.....I'll try again later.

Thx for all the work here.

Patty C. said...

I can't get to the template either - I'll be back ;)

Melinda said...

I can't get the template either. I really want to make this quilt so I will check later and hopefully will be able to get the template.

Anne said...

Beautiful. The template doesn't work for me either. I do have a question. I, like yourself, don't pin a lot, but don't have a problem pinning when I must. However, I don't see how you can pin subsequent rows onto this as the overlap appears to be very tiny. Can you please explain the pinning, in rows 2 and on forward, in a little more detail? Thanks so much, I can't wait to make one of these!!

Barb said...

I cannot access the template..but I am ready to make the quilt! Please let me know when it is available. said...

I think I just fixed the template- SORRY! Someone check and let me know, THANKS!

As for the pinning- you just have to pin along that 1/4" seam. It is small, but do-able. Like I said, If I can do it than I know you can! :o)

Kathy said...

That is so cute! I love the tutorial too. Can't wait to try it. I haven't tried the template yet though.

paulette said...

I got the template and printed it off!! Thanks you SEW much for this wonderful tutorial!! Love this quilt!

luv2quilt2 said...

I got to the template, saved it, and now I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the tutorial.

LynCC said...

AWESOME!!! Thank you so much!! :D

*Got the template fine over here)

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Incredible Emily. Thank you so much for doing this great tutorial!!

Belinda said...

Great tutorial! I have been working on one and am doing mine ALL by hand, but yours looks fast and easy for doing one on the machine!! I will earmark yours and give it a try after I get over the ordeal of doing one by hand!! ha!

Katie M. said...

I've always wanted to try a Clamshell, Now I will. Thank you for sharing.

Anne said...

Still can't download the template, won't work as a pdf file for some reason adobe pdf won't recognize it.

Susan Being Snippy said...

Great tutorial! My aunt made this same pattern, way back in the 1960's, she did it all by hand and I have always wondered if it could be done accurately by machine. You answered that question beautifully! Thanks -- come winter, perhaps I will start cutting...

LuLu said...

Hi Emily, I finally got my hands on some GC. I tried to add a picture to your flickr pool but I guess you have to be a member. Anywhoodle, if you want to see it you can hop over to my blog or you can email me an invite to your Flickr fun.
Gorgeous clam bake, by the way! I hope that quilt is a keeper!

Anita said...

This was beautiful! Thank you for your tut :)

cookie said...

thank you so much for that great tutorial. Can't wait to get started.

Vickie said...

OK. I love this. Just found your blog and it is fun. Thanks!

Anne's House said...

Hi Emily, I would never have attempted the clamshell technique had it not been for your absolutely WONDERFUL, detailed tutorial. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH. I just finished my clambake quilt top. I will post a picture of it on my blog. I just love it, and I cannot thank you enough! Hugs!

Heather said...

I saw this exact technique in a magazing and I walked away from it. I regretted that from the second I was home. I went back a week later and do you think I could find that magazine to save my life. I searched high and low to find the technique and HERE IT IS!!!!! I am beyond thrilled that I found it again. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!

DSL said...

It appeared to freeze when I was downloading the PDF of the template, but then I clicked on the printer icon in the upper left and there it was. Make sure your paper is set to portrait and NOT LANDSCAPE setting or you will get a 2" wider Clamshell!